Ward, J.R., Heath, P.R., Catto, J.W., Whyte, M.K.B., Milo, M. and Renshaw, S.A. (2011) Regulation of neutrophil senescence by microRNAs. Plos One, 6 (1). Art no.e15810. ISSN 1932-6203
Neutrophils are rapidly recruited to sites of tissue injury or infection, where they protect against invading pathogens. Neutrophil functions are limited by a process of neutrophil senescence, which renders the cells unable to respond to chemoattractants, carry out respiratory burst, or degranulate. In parallel, aged neutrophils also undergo spontaneous apoptosis, which can be delayed by factors such as GMCSF. This is then followed by their subsequent removal by phagocytic cells such as macrophages, thereby preventing unwanted inflammation and tissue damage. Neutrophils translate mRNA to make new proteins that are important in maintaining functional longevity. We therefore hypothesised that neutrophil functions and lifespan might be regulated by microRNAs expressed within human neutrophils. Total RNA from highly purified neutrophils was prepared and subjected to microarray analysis using the Agilent human miRNA microarray V3. We found human neutrophils expressed a selected repertoire of 148 microRNAs and that 6 of these were significantly upregulated after a period of 4 hours in culture, at a time when the contribution of apoptosis is negligible. A list of predicted targets for these 6 microRNAs was generated from http://mirecords.biolead.org and compared to mRNA species downregulated over time, revealing 83 genes targeted by at least 2 out of the 6 regulated microRNAs. Pathway analysis of genes containing binding sites for these microRNAs identified the following pathways: chemokine and cytokine signalling, Ras pathway, and regulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Our data suggest that microRNAs may play a role in the regulation of neutrophil senescence and further suggest that manipulation of microRNAs might represent an area of future therapeutic interest for the treatment of inflammatory disease.